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Tools for Thought: Graphic Organizers for Your Classroom [Paperback]

by Jim Burke
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 8, 2002 0325004641 978-0325004648

Dozens of graphic organizers and a hundred ways to use them! Jim's prepared a workbook that's a real workhorse, providing tools to spark student thinking that are both intriguing and precise-and applicable to grades 6 to 12 in all subject areas. These tools range from annotations and literature circle notes to Venn diagrams and vocabulary squares. Each comes as a reproducible accompanied by:

  • background information and theoretical foundations
  • different ways to use each tool to help students read, write, speak, and think better
  • a range of note-taking strategies to help students succeed in all academic classes
  • student samples, including many from Jim's ACCESS (Academic Success) program for struggling students who want to succeed.

In addition, three documents help you choose "the right tool for the job." Use Jim's suggestions to help students take better notes and improve their critical thinking. Or use his visual directory to quickly evaluate what you need for an assignment. Tools for Thought works across the spectrum-helping students with learning differences, assisting struggling readers and writers, challenging students in advanced classes.

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Tools for Thought: Graphic Organizers for Your Classroom + Writing Reminders: Tools, Tips, and Techniques
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Burke is the author of numerous bestselling Heinemann titles, including the English Teacher's Companion, Fourth Edition and What's the Big Idea? The question he's always tried to answer is "How can we teach our students better?" He seeks these answers daily through his work in his own classroom at Burlingame High School in California where he still teaches after twenty years. Facing the same constraints and challenges as every other teacher, Jim shares his creative solutions in bestselling professional titles with Heinemann such as Reading Reminders and Writing Reminders as well as through Heinemann Professional Development Services. As part of his commitment to helping teachers and learning how to use the latest technologies, he founded the English Companion Ning, described by Education Week as "the world's largest English department" and winner of several Edublog Awards for Best Social Network for Education. In addition to the EC Ning, Jim offers a steady stream of recommended resources through his website ( and Twitter (@englishcomp) where he is ranked in the top 100 educators to follow at the top within the online English teacher community. Jim serves on several national commissions related to adolescent literacy and standards, including the Advanced Placement English Literature and Language Course and Exam Review Commission with the College Board and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) where he serves on the Content Technical Working Group, which advises PARCC on the national assessments being developed for the Common Core State Standards. In addition, he is a senior author on the Holt McDougal Harcourt Literature series. Jim has received numerous awards, including the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award, the NCTE Conference on English Leadership Award, and the California Reading Association Hall of Fame Award. He served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Committee on Adolescence and Young Adulthood English Language Arts Standards. Through his work in the class and on such commissions, Jim Burke seeks not only to clarify but reimagine what English should be, honoring the past even as he works with others to create the future of the discipline he loves so much. Visit his website ( for more information.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann (August 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0325004641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0325004648
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Tools for Thought: Graphic Organisers for Your Classroom
by Jim Burke

Books on graphic organisers & visual tools have generally fascinated me for more than two decades, probably in the light of my own personal interests in visual thinking. Also, my strategy consultancy work with adults & teens in helping them to navigate reading materials is a contributing factor. I have already amassed a large collection of them in my personal library.

Strategically & tactically, I am a avid practitioner of visual thinking. When I read, I always annotate in the margins. I also strenuously use the MindManager Pro & SmartDraw Pro to support all my reading - & thinking - pursuits. All the interesting ideas captured in my marginal annotations - & insights from my reflections & assimilations - are alway transformed into mind-maps &/or mind-scapes.

This book has recently entered my library. It has been written by a English Language teacher. Therefore, I noted that the book has an obvious slant towards applications in language arts.

There are twenty six tools listed in the table of contents & twenty four of them are illustrated graphically in the Toolbox: Visual Directory of the Tools. Each tool has its own description, notes & examples, assessment standards as well as application possiblities. From the teaching standpoint, the inclusion of thirty two reproducible tools for classroom use is certainly an added benefit for teachers.

The 'Annotations' on page 1 is definitely not a graphic organiser. The author admitted that "it looks a little different from the other tools, yet it is no less a tool.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! December 24, 2005
This is my FAVORITE teaching book. It has graphic organizers that are neither too simple nor too challenging for high school level students, and better yet, examples of how to use each. A must-have for all English teachers!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tool for teachers! April 20, 2004
By JuJu
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jim Burke created (and compiled) a lot of useful graphic organizers in this book. Each organizer comes with the author's explanation and examples. The book is my most useful toolbook in my collection. It helps my teacher and student learning. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every teacher needs one September 15, 2012
By Pat
Tools for thought is one of the few books for teachers that I'd call instantly usable. Jim Burke has done an excellent job of organizing the material instructions. I looked through a co worker's copy years ago and wanted one of my own. Finding a used copy on amazon in such good condition felt like Christmas!
Every high school teacher needs a copy of this book. If you're looking for something to give a new teacher, I'd recommend this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book September 6, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Filled with graphic organizers and ideas for teachers--this is a great companion to his textbook for English Teachers. I think this would be helpful for a new teacher who teaches grades 7-12. I'm using a lot of his ideas in my 9th grade English class.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must have resource for all teachers March 5, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is a great book for helping students organize their notes and then develop their notes into papers incorporating research practices. Great examples and great lessons. English teachers a MUST BUY!
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